A/N:

Written BEFORE Deathly Hallows was released in 2007.

You flame, I report you.

In The End

He stood there, alone, with no one else around him. He had, done his best, and he'd failed in not just some things, but too many things. He stood there, and he could still see them, as they fought, in what was not a battle, or the battle to end all battles. It was the War itself, fought in its entirety in just over five hours. Five hours of spells, blood, death and duel after duel after duel.

Harry Potter, had killed Voldemort, and while having achieved victory, had lost so much more as well, that day. The battle had raged throughout Hogsmeade that was where his part in the story would begin if he were asked about it, not that he would tell anyone about it. Valentines Day, the 14th of February, 1997. The War truly began that day. It also, ended that day.

Hogsmeade was the first of the final battlegrounds. What little remained of the original Hogsmeade, would be the Shrieking Shack far too enchanted and protect by different wards and charms to be actively harmed. Every other building was level down to the last brick and wooden beam, destroyed in the kaleidoscope and maelstrom of spells cast by both Dark and Light. Dozens of innocent lives were lost in the crossfire and of Hogwarts students, only the first and second year students were spared. Third years and above are allowed to go on trips to Hogsmeade. That had been the source of constant gripes and complaints from the first two, and youngest years. The very thing that they had complained against had been the one thing that had spared them having to deal with the pain and grief of lost friends. The irony of it was not lost on him.

The Ministry of Magic had dispatched every Auror that Auror Command could spare on that fateful day. Three battalions had apparated in to Hogsmeade within minutes of the alarm going out. Two hundred and fifty plus Aurors who had stood their ground, fought, killed and died against Dementors, Trolls, Giants, and Death Eaters for several hours, before being overwhelming. The Order of the Phoenix, next to the student body of Hogwarts, as was reported later by the Wizard press, suffered the most casualties. He stood in the field laid aside, with the statue emblazoned with the names of those who had fallen in the last final desperate battle with the Dark, even as its few survivors fled back in to the Castle to regroup, hoping to force the enemy in to a bottleneck at the entrance.

The Order of the Phoenix had not suffered the second highest number of deaths. They were actually those who truly deserved to be honored, to be remembered, and to never be forgotten as true heroes, who fought and died for what they believed in. The Order of the Phoenix was wiped out to very nearly the last man, and woman. Only three of its members survived: - Molly Weasely, Allistor "Mad Eye" Moody, and Nyphandora Tonks.

Albus Dumbledore died when a group of Death Eaters with Trolls in support near the Shrieking Shack outflanked his group. While powerful enough magically to withstand nearly any assault, the two brutal club blows that had shattered Albus Dumbledore's spinal column from top to bottom, magic could neither prevent or protect against.

He stood still, as he stared down at the graves and their headstones. Tens, dozens, hundreds of them and of the almost five hundred headstones within the field, about a tenth of that total had been friends, housemates, or schoolmates. People he had cared about, people he had loved, people he had respected. He felt them move in to the field, several paces behind him, stopping at a respectful distance from him, all to aware of the penalty they could potentially pay if they disturbed him.

To think that it had come down to students, who were not of age, who had held the field, and fought, and bled and died and won the day. Completing the task of holding together the battle, to manipulate and maneuver Voldemort in to the open, and antagonize him no end, forcing him to take off in a blood lust and frenzy to stake a certain head open his Battle Standard. It allowed Harry James Potter to do what he must do, to fulfill his destiny and take his place in history. In total, of the six hundred and forty seven students at Hogwards School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, a total of two hundred and sixty six students gave their lives that fateful day. Many lost their lives to Avada Kadavra.

Many of those still alive, ironically, owed their lives to Avada Kadavra. It was Ron Weasely, who had set that particular ball rolling, and it had saved the lives of many students who were in the battle at that point. As he shouted, taking charge of those around him, near the Three Broomsticks, "Use the killing curse! USE IT!" and he had done so, killing more than a dozen Death Eaters himself, as he had fired Avada Kadavra, Reducto, and Draconis Incendio, not bothering with Stupefy during the five-hour battle royal.

He still remembered when the Death Eaters of the Malfoy family slew Ron who had killed and slew countless Death Eaters. They had sighted him, and fired the killing curse. His Quidditch reflexes had let him dodge the first, but he had dodged in to the path of the second. Hermione Granger had been the next to fall, as Draco himself, used Cruciatus to disable her as he closed up the distance between them, for whatever reasons. His own Avada Kadavra had been a few moments too late. He killed Draco, but not before Draco had killed Hermione.

By this time, the only student left alive and fighting were those, from the Defense Association. The DA had fought and fought valiantly against overwhelming odds and numbers, improvising and maneuvering on the fly, with no command structure, no chain of command, no organized battle plan, and no fancy strategy. If there was a strategy, it was the one that adopted by Fred and George Weasely before they were also slaughtered, as they lead a charge from a side street near the Hogsmeade branch of Weasley Wizarding Wheezes. Their strategy, if you could call it that had been surprisingly simple, "KILL THEM ALL!"

He could understand why. He had been there, when the three oldest Weasley children Bill, Charlie, and Percy were lain to rest. The three were captured, tortured for sport and then personally executed by Voldemort.

Among the dead, he also knew, and considered friends: Ginny Weasely. She had died when trying to get an elderly witch and wizard to safety. Cause of death, Avada Kadavra. Arthur Weasely, hit with multiple reductor curses when his heart, arguably took control of his head and he tried to save his daughter's life. Sadly, the Weasely family is the family that lost the most, and nobody can say or do anything that can really comfort Molly Weasely. Eight times the Order of Merlin, Second Class with Special Citation was awarded to her. They were no comfort to a woman that had lost her family in less than six months.

The Order of the Phoenix, had served its purpose in the war against Voldemort, but so many were dead, the Phoenix would not rise from the ashes of the war, as the ashes were scattered simply everywhere.

He realized a few days after the war itself was over, that if he closed his eyes, he could replay almost every moment of the battle, from the moment he joined the battle, to its end when his girlfriend was struck down by friendly fire. She had died in his arms. That woke him from sleep, oftentimes screaming, incoherently, cold, drenched in sweat as if he had just stepped out of a hot shower. As a result, he had mastered silencing charms and cleaning charms rather well. He was not the only Gryffindor to have witnessed the horrors that man is capable of visiting upon man when war turns to wholesale slaughter and butchery and to need counseling because of what he saw, and because of what he had done.

He could not bear to be alone with anyone, the pain and loss he had suffered that day, during his seventh year, had crippled him in ways that he had never thought would be possible. Since Luna Lovegood was struck down, he had never looked at another woman since then. But then again, it was only a few months before the third anniversary of the fall of Voldemort. He looked up at the sky, its rays bright, falling down to earth to bring life to all that it touched. Why could it not bring life to those whom he needed the most?

He had spent a fair amount of time here, now, in this graveyard, talking to the graves, talking to the headstones, praying, hoping that his housemates and more importantly, his friends, and beyond that his girlfriend were looking down on him, smiling and happy, where they were.

He hoped that above all else, Harry had found his parents, and family.

He hoped that Luna, his girlfriend, his love, his soul mate would be there, waiting for him.

He hoped that everyone he knew and loved and cared about would be waiting to see him again.

He could only hope, because hope is one of the last few things that he has remaining in his life, especially now.

He fell to his knees, unable to stand any longer, at the foot of her grave, the tears that he had fought so hard to hold back, he held back no longer as he cried, silent rivers that trickled down his face. He only wanted one wish to be granted to him, to be able to see her, hold her, one last time and tell her how much he loves her. But no amount of wishing or magic can bring back those who walk the roads of the next great adventure to the organized mind.

A twig snapped and a bush rustled behind him. He came out of his crouch, tears gone, his speed impressive, and his wand apparated in to his hand from within his robes. The shield charm was cast as he stood with his wand pointed at the new Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, "You cannot blame yourself for their deaths," she whispered quietly to him, "Stop using this as a club to beat yourself with. It's not your fault that everything turned away that it has. Be thankful for what you have."

"What do I have? I've lost everything, and virtually everyone that ever meant something to me. I have more friends, and family buried in the thirty feet of earth around us than most people bury in a three lifetimes." He snapped back, the tears flowing, even though the want had lowered itself of its own accord, when he had recognized his former transfiguration professor, "How the devil did you know to find me here anyway?"

"I've heard that you go no where else but here when you leave the Castle. I still don't understand why you opted to stay here, after graduation, when so many others…" she left her question unfinished, not so much uncertain of how to say what she wanted to say, but not certain whether she should finish her question.

She did not have to, as he answered for her, "Because everyone who fell on those fields, and throughout Hogsmeade, should not be forgotten. Because somebody who was there must tend to their graves and maintain the truth! Honor and loyalty before profit!" he snarled, "I have honor! I have loyalty!" his voice was brittle, "I have never, profited!" it was part accusation, part declaration, "You were there! You saw what happened!"

Minerva McGonagall checked herself and refrained from barking out a rebuke over his language. He was no longer a student of Hogwarts, and as a full Professor they were equals in many ways, even though she technically outranked him, feuding between the Headmistress and Deputy would not bode well.

"Neville,"

"Don't say anything. Just don't." he snapped, his temper coming close to the surface, "Unless you're here to pay your respects, leave me alone!"

Minerva had paid her respects before noticing him crouched by Luna's grave. And did as he requested, slipping away as silently as she had arrived, the faint rustling of robes the only thing that marked her departure from the graveyard as she made her way, back up to the castle, leaving Neville alone with the graves of nearly all his friends:

Harry, Hermione, Ron, George, Fred, Bill, Charlie, Percy, Ginny, Sean, Dean, Colin, topped the list of several hundred students. Sprout, Vector, Flitwick and Hagrid topped the list from the Professors. All the graves he attended to monthly, except for one grave that he made a weekly pilgrimage to: Luna. The loss of Luna Lovegood, had broken Neville Longbottom. His heart was not broken, but shattered and the pieces left discarded, as he was unable to pick them up and find a way to carry on and move forward with his life.

The sun began its slow lazy descent from the sky as he finally turned away from the graves, and bid another silent farewell to his friends, before turning and trudging away. Step, step, step, the strength of will it took for him not to break down, and stop, even as he wiped tears away, more threatening to spill from his eyes. Setting his mind, and hardening his heart, he climbed the path that lead towards the school he could not leave, refusing to dishonor the memory of his friends.

Justice and the Light had won, and the price had been high, not only amongst those who gave their lives, but also for those who had survived to celebrate the victory. The Wizarding World had rejoiced, the Wizarding World had celebrated. Those who survived had mourned the dead, and many still mourned, "In the end, it doesn't even matter. Voldemort is dead, the wizarding world moves on. And the heroes are forgotten."

In the end, they don't matter.